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Creating a Modern Diorama of Daguerre

Modern Dioramas
By Bill Walcker

The genius of Daguerre is not only found in his persistence and discovery of the daguerreotype but also in his work on his Dioramas. A diorama is a picture or series of pictures representing a continuous scene. In 1822 after establishing himself as a painter, Daguerre invented his incredible Diorama show becoming a pioneer in theatre sets and what later evolved into the movie industry. Daguerre combined his painting skills with spectacular optical and sound effects over huge painted canvasses at the Grand Boulevards in Paris creating a magical world. Daguerre’s realistic scenes were painted on very large canvas, each measuring 20 x 14 metre and carrying two pictures on both sides. On lookers were amazed at the grand spectacular. In the same tradition very few modern artists are exploring this interesting medium.

Upon completing a degree in Art, I started on obtaining one in photography. Having a learning base in both areas, and studing about Louis Daguerre, his life, his work, I was at that time looking for a life course in the field of Art. Wanting to be involved in something no one was exploring, It came to me. I started to work out the processes needed to make my goals happen. in 1970 I started my Big Show of Dioramas. To bring light into the Art Form, A new format, or canvas, needed to be invented. A box, to house the lights. bulbs, fiber-optics, neon, etc. Than a way of defusing the intensity of the light. White, opec, Translucent, plastic, worked great, next a way of letting all mediums co-operate together. Sheets of clear plastic, was the answer to that problem. The light mixed the mediums, as one. With this done, I started on some projects to see what this new canvas would allow. This went from pen and ink, drawing, balsa wood, nishika 3-D tec. mixing 3-D photography, with pen and ink and pencil. all work was done in 16 by 20 size. 3-D transparency’s were made. This photo process is now extinct. Many types of lighting was brought into the Art. holes were drilled into the plastic sheet, to bring the fiber-optic light forward into the canvas. One of the first projects was the Daguerre print. Too restore these two daguerreotype, required a process that was tryed briefly in the 1800,s from this basic idea, I developed a new process to accomplish the task. A 16 by 20 piece of paper, one that would let a medium amount of light pass through was chosen, after many attempts. That, drawing in the neg. with pencil lead. black creating white. drawing on a light screen to be able to see the density forming. a paper negative was created. This process took over a year, of regular 8 hr a day work, to produce. This allowed a 16 by neg. black and white print to be made. This print was than cut apart and put into the new canvas. The back ground daguerreotype outside the window of Louis Daguerre’s studio , St. Martins, France. was put at the very back of the dimension canvas. A 1/4 in. balsa wood window was made to than separate, the other daguerreotype photo, of Louis Daguerre. These two photo’s were than hand dyed, with photo dyes and food coloring. This project was finished in 1977, almost 30 ago. Most of the rest of the Dioramas were finished over the next 10 years. This work as been setting, waiting for a time in history when history would be ready to record some of the objectives this work was intended to accomplish. One, to prove once and for all that photography is Art, But only when light is put into the Art. That multi-medium art can be put together in a format so as to add to each other greatly. and to bring the presents of the founder of all these ideas, to the future. Louis Daguerre

This Diorama is Train---photography Mtn---pen and ink traffic light---pencil. [ traffic lite blinks off and on ] fiberoptic. The demention is created with sheets of clear plastic. The moon, is a hole cut into sun screen shade, creating the night effect.

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